Eric Auer wrote:
Hi, maybe a bit off topic, but a friend found a nice page about
the 1995 Microsoft Bob user interface:

http://toastytech.com/guis/bob2.html

Bob is a desktop for Windows 3 (and 95) and aims to be VERRRRY intuitive.
Actually, the desktop looks like a room and you can place objects there
instead of placing icons or menu items. You are haunted by cute assistants
like Bob the dog all the time - you see him back in the WinXP search assistant.
Problem is that soon after Bob (required 486 / 8 MB / VGA), the popular Win95
hit the market. MS did not dare to re-introduce over-cute candy-color iGUIs
again until WinXP, it seems. But they did plug "cute" paper clips into Office
(YES, there are users which think that they are cute - no idea if they think
that the assistants are USEFUL, though).
...
[Correction: The GUI is called Bob, but the dog is called Rover!]
...

I'm definitely OT, but the subject already identified itself as such...

I'm related to someone <<name withheld>> who used to work at Microsoft (intern for a summer ~1994) on the MS Office team, and he told me the dog from "Bob" made a reappearance as a Microsoft Assistant in MS Office. (He's the dog with the Superman cape.)

There was actually a disagreement within Microsoft at the time this was in the planning phase -- they knew the Assistant would be capable of reading & parsing full sentences ("How do I change text to bold?") and would return only the help topics that were relevant to your question. The big disagreement was what would represent the Assistant. One team wanted the dog from "Bob" and another team wanted a dude wearing a Microsoft tshirt.

Microsoft acknowledged that version 1.0 of anything they did would suck big-time (the Assistant would give totally unrelated search results) so the final argument was this: Which of these should represent Microsoft -- a "smart" dog (can understand full sentences) who would sometimes give you wrong answers, or a guy in a Microsoft tshirt who was stupid and would give you wrong answers?

That's why you can change the Microsoft Assistant in MS Office, to make a compromise with the different groups. The default is Clippy, the annoying animated paperclip who sometimes gives you unrelated advice (but hey, he's just a paperclip!) But you can also change the Assistant to the dog, or to Einstein, ...

-jh


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